As some of you will know from my often talking about it, even in previous sermons here, I grew up in a fundamentalist church in small-town Texas. To make sure to save our souls, we were in church whenever the doors were open. My father was the song leader. We went to church at least three times a week: for Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening prayer service. Sermons were generally 40 minutes long (don’t worry, I won’t go that long today). There was always an invitation call, what in some churches is known as the “altar call,” at which we would stand and sing countless verses of “Just As I Am” while the preacher encouraged anyone to come forward who needed baptism, confession of sins, or just prayers in general. And we sang lots of songs with phrases and words little kids have a bit of trouble really understanding.
Years later we would laugh at what we thought we were saying or singing. Like the song “When the rolls are called up yonder,” or “Up from the gravy the rolls,” (for a five or six year old boy ready to get home for Sunday dinner, you can understand why so many of my misunderstandings had to do with food), or “Gladly, the cross-eyed bear.” Or my father’s favorite quotation from the Apostle Paul, as we heard it from the King James Version: “I would not have you, ignorant brethren.”